Nabokov’s legacy

 

Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir Nabokov almost destroyed a masterpiece. He had already carried the manuscript for his novel “Lolita” to the shadows cast by the oblique incinerator on the innocent lawn. ” Probably it is thanks to his wife Vera, that the text, which was to be founded shortly after Nabokov’s literary world fame, did not set in fire. It was a happy decision of a writer who was troubled by doubts, at the height of his creative power, before the great glory. Postum is now Nabokov’s son Dmitri the most important actor in a similarly following publication drama, this time, however, with a completely different backdrop and with an outlet, which can be disputed excellent.

At the end of 1975, Nabokov, 76 years old and already health-conscious, began to work steadily on the writing of his last novel. If one believes the author, he composed “The model for Laura” – like each of his 18 novels – completely in his thoughts, then to fix it on card types. This last inscription from the memory became a race with the death, which Nabokov had to end up defeating. He simply lacked the powers to transfer his intellectual design to paper.

In the delirium of several hospital stays, he read his finished composition imaginarily “a small trampublikum in a walled garden. Among my listeners were peacocks, pigeons, my long dead parents, two cypresses, some young nurses who were crouching on the ground, and a house doctor so old that he remained almost invisible. ” The world remained a novel fragment of 138 card types, no more than 34 potential book pages, which should be destroyed according to the will of Nabokov.

More than 30 years later, after the nervousness of the literary public and the speculative speculation about the form and content of the card designs still slipping in a Swiss bank card, Dmitri Nabokov, disregarding the paternal edict, has over 30 years later , The fragment now published. As facsimile of the manuscript with German translation. And this fragment is not much more than a shadow of the planned novel. A text construction site full of loose fragments, alternative designs, notes and keywords, with a huge gap in the middle part revealing the plot.

To a perfectionist like Nabokov, who was nothing more hated than the imperfect, this sparsely edited insight into the embryonic stage of his last novel textur would seem almost as nightmarish as a magician’s imagination that his audience would look behind the scenes without having to look through his tricks. After all, Nabokov was a writer with almost limitless perfection. He read from television interviews of pages, which he hid behind bookstacks. Whether it be a novel, an interview, or a letter, he turned and turned every word on the paper several times, and at the time of his request for work, he pointedly pointed out that a fetus should not be operated “out of sheer curiosity” Ambitious zeros and fresh and cheerful mediocrity “.

Now it is in the world, his legacy named “Laura”, an enigmatic rough diamond with an angular plot which only Nabokov himself could have grinded. Flora, the beautiful and promiscuous wife of the world-renowned neurologist Philip Wild, is the model for a key novel, “My Laura”, with which the author, her disappointed lover, following the ending in Oscar Wilde’s “Dorian Gray” Destroy by portraying them. Meanwhile, the obese, life-loving creature works in secret on an obscure scientific text, which traces his ecstatic attempts to extinguish himself by his own mind.

The fragment of this twisted constellation of two related books in the book itself only reveals what a wonderfully intimate Romangewebe Nabokov had in mind. Yet his last great literary triumph is the fact that he is still artistically elevated above the death of his own death. In the passages about Wild’s self-experiments with death, Nabokov’s ingenious geniality flashes again, which gave the readers of his melodious text-labyrinths so long a time of shudder. And Nabokov would not be Nabokov if he had not given his work a tinge of tragic and rogue irony, as the subtitle of the novel mirrors: “Dying is fun.”

Nevertheless, even for hard-fisted Nabokovian “The model for Laura” a single puzzle. How does the mysterious “I” explain itself, which, like an eerie monolith, stands out of the narrative of the third person? How does Flora react to the reading of her portrait? How do the death experiments of the desperate neurologist end? The scanty edition is at a loss. It has only vague speculation. It is left to the reader to assemble the fragments of this angular mirror cabinet itself. And that is unfortunately an unsolvable task. The only comfort for the mature reader remains the power of imagination. This insight also speaks of this fragment, similar to the last lines of Nabokov’s last great novel in Russian, “The gift”: “From the waking spirit, my text, which has thus ended, does not force this point to be the end of existence Deceptive forms blow blue-blushing over the black leaf like morning clouds without haste, and never a line ends. “Literature: NABOKOV, VLADIMIR: The model for Laura. Roman fragment on 138 card types. Edited by Dmitri Nabokov. Rowohlt publishing house, Reinbek 2009. 318 p., 19,90 €.

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